According to this, and subsequent laws, a great number of persons have been sentenced to confinement and hard labor; there are a number of them at this time under sentences, some for the term of their lives, and others for a shorter space of time.—There are particular regulations provided by the Legislature of the Commonwealth, and particular modes of discipline instituted for the government of such convicts.
This mode of punishment has been found by experience to be of great utility in the preservation of good order, and the producing of safety in the Commonwealth, and has a manifest tendency to render unnecessary those sanguinary punishments which are too frequently inflicted in other Governments.
The situation of our country now calls for fortifications on our seacoasts; and the President of the United States has communicated the Act of Congress for erecting forts in the harbor of Boston, which now lies before you. The fortification on Castle Island is very ancient, and has always been supported by this Government. It is a prison for certain purposes, by an act of the legislature of the Commonwealth, which puts it out of my power, if I was disposed to do it, to deliver the controul over to any other hands. Should that place, by act of the General Court, be given over to the controul of the military department of the general Government, the convicts under sentence, must be discharged, or another place of confinement be provided for them. No government can assign the execution of sentences passed by it to the officers of another government, because such officers would be under no obligation to execute the laws of a government of which they are totally independent, nor can they be held amenable to it for any excesses, or oppressions in their conduct. That fortification being thus appropriated by the Legislature, and yet being convenient as a place of defence, I submit it to you, gentlemen, to determine, whether it will not be for the interest of the Commonwealth in particular, and the United States in general, to have it repaired at the ex-pence of this government. The expence will not be great, and the utility, if not the indispensible necessity of holding it under the controul of this state, in the same manner, and for the same purposes for which it has been held for several years last past, is very obvious.
1 Chapter 32.
November 3, 1794.
[Independent Chronicle, November 6, 1794.]
By Authority [Seal] Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
By the governor.